How to Pronounce the French 'X'

You'll generally find the 'x' in French by itself or with a 'c' ('xc')

Generally, the letter 'x' is used in one of two ways in French: by itself or in combination with 'c' ('xc').

'X': Soft Pronunciation

The 'x' is pronounced like the 'x' in the English word "fix" [ks] in two locations: 1) in front of a consonant or 2) at the end of a word or syllable. Listen 

Examples:

  • the letter x
  • une experience > experience, experiment
  • la taxe > tax

Exception: The 'x' at the end of French numbers such as six and dix is pronounced like an 'S.'

'X': Hard Pronunciation

Between two vowels in two different syllables, the 'x' is pronounced [gz] as in exit. Listen
Exception: The 'x' in xérès is pronounced [gz].

Examples: 

  • le xylophone > xylophone
  • exact > exact, correct

Liaison or Enchaînement

In pronunciations that involve liaison or enchaînement, 'x' is pronounced like a 'z.'

'XC': Soft Pronunciation

In front of a soft vowel 'xc' is pronounced [ks], like the 'soft x' pronunciation in which the 'c' is essentially silent. Listen to excentré.

Examples:

  • excellent > excellent
  • excentré > outlying

'XC': Hard Pronunciation

In front of a hard vowel or a consonant, 'xc' is pronounced [ksk], like the soft 'x' plus a hard 'c.' Essentially, they are pronounced individually according to their traditional rules. Listen to express. 

Examples: 

  • excusez-moi > excuse me
  • exclamation > exclamation
  • express > espresso

French Words with 'X' 

Click on the links to hear these words pronounced in French: